By John Lester - images & text © 2001 (except where noted)
Jovian Chronicles is a popular table top miniatures wargame produced by Dream Pod 9. Set in a "politically charged universe" mid-2200's, it enables players to command fleets of ships and mechs (called "exo-armors") and engage in space and planetary combat, with domination of our Solar System as the goal. There are three "sides": Jovians, humans who inhabit space colonies in the Jovian/Belt area of our Solar System; CEGA, the Central Earth Government and Administration, which controls the battered home planet and environs; and the Venusians, a corporate society based on and around Venus.
The game is supported with a number of rule books, ship/exo-armor recognition manuals and miniatures.
Image: Pathfinder exo-armor cutaway drawing
Image: Forge-class patrol carier
Image: CEGA Navy manual
Image: Poseiden mini
Image: Thunderbolt-class ships
Image: Tengu-class ships
Image: Bricriu-class ships
Image: Pathfinder exo-armor
The recognition manuals, available for all three major sides, are a scratchbuilder's delight. Each are chock full of three view scale plans, perspective and cut-away drawings, as well as descriptive text. In addition to exo-armors and capital ships, interceptors, civialian ships and equipment for each of the sides are covered in succeding volumes. Also available, or coming soon, are source books for the minor players in this universe (like the Martian or Mercury forces). Many of the designs covered are briefly described at the Dream Pod 9 site.
The Lightning Strike (2nd Edition) book collects and streamlines rules for game play contained in several previous books. Though the focus is explaining game rules, it also contains many vehicle drawings as well as sections on painting miniatures and making asteroids.
The Jovian Chronicles miniatures are what really catch the model builder's eye. Cast in either hard grey resin (ships) or white metal (exo-armor and smaller ship minis), they sport interesting designs and great detail for such small size. Though many of the exo-armors appear to be heavily influenced by Gundam and similar mecha designs (not that is in any way a bad thing) the ships are quite unique. Exo-armors, space fighters and other auxiliary craft are 1/500 scale; spaceships of any type are all 1/5000.
Each blister pack contains one miniature (or two, in the case of the smaller ships), a small sheet of waterslide decals (that appear to be ALPs-printed), and a data card. Casting is nearly flawless; there are no pits or voids in any of the resin pieces I've seen, and the white metal pieces have a level of detail that's among the best in the industry, with very little flash or other imperfections. The decals are extremely sharp, and despite the small size the writing is quite legible.
I have had zero problems assembling the ships, though the tiny kinetic kill cannon clusters threatened to escape my tweezers several times. The exo-armors I've built presented a slightly greater challenge, with arms and legs having considerable room for positioning and small (and I do mean small) gaps needing to be filled afterward. Similarly, the tiny decals can be a challenge to apply, not only because of their size but a tendency not to stick well (because they have so little surface area). Sliding them onto a drop of Future acrylic floor polish and then positioning them takes care of this problem for me (it's the same technique I use for tiny aircraft data stencils). For a look at assembled and painted minis, go here.
Also available are a series of plans depicting major combatants of the various fleets. These feature clear three-view drawings of the ships, plus technical data and operational histories of the class. If you wish to scratchbuild larger models of any of the Jovian Chronicles designs, these plans will be invaluable reference.
ConclusionThe Jovian Chronicles line features enough different spacecraft and mecha designs to be of interest to almost any science fiction equipment fan. Even if you don't play the game, the miniatures are fun to build and paint - the sort of project that can be done on a rainy afternoon with or without your kids. Highly recommended.
This page copyright © 2001 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 3 December 2001.